Hydropower from a Washing Mashine

Hydropower Washing Machine

Living off the grid is an appealing goal for many in the hacker community, perhaps because it can fulfill the need to create, to establish independence, to prepare for the apocalypse, or some combination of all those things. [Buddhanz1] has been living off the grid for awhile now by harnessing power from a nearby stream with an old washing-machine-turned-generator.

He started with a Fisher & Paykel smart drive, which he stripped down to the middle housing, retaining the plastic tub, the stator, the rotor, the shaft, and the bearings. After a quick spot check to ensure the relative quality of the stator and the rotor, [Buddhanz1] removed the stator and rewired it. Unchanged, the stator would output 0-400V unloaded at 3-4 amps max, which isn’t a particularly useful range for charging batteries. By rewiring the stator (demonstration video here) he lowered the voltage while increasing the current.

The key to this build is the inclusion of a pelton wheel—which we’ve seen before in a similar build. [Buddhanz1] channeled the water flow directly into the pelton wheel to spin the shaft inside the tub. After adding some silicon sealant and an access/repair hatch, [Buddhanz1] painted the outside to protect the assembly from the sun, and fitted a DC rectifier that converts the electricity for the batteries. With the water pressure at about 45psi, the generator is capable of ~29V/21A: just over 600W. With a larger water jet, the rig can reach 900W. Stick around for the video after the break.

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Extrinsic Motivation: Smart Antenna Tracker for R/C Aircraft

dishes

Long distance FPV (First Person View) flying can be a handful. Keeping a video feed alive generally requires a high gain directional antenna. Going directional creates the chore of keeping the antenna pointed at the aircraft. [Brandon's] smart antenna tracker is designed to do all that automatically. What witchcraft is this, you ask? The answer is actually quite simple: Telemetry! Many flight control systems have an optional telemetry transmitter. [Brandon] is using the 3DRobotics APM or PixHawk systems, which use 3DR’s 915 MHz radios.

The airborne radio sends telemetry data, including aircraft latitude and longitude down to a ground station. Equipped with a receiver for this data and a GPS of its own, the smart antenna tracker knows the exact position, heading and velocity of the aircraft. Using a pan and tilt mount, the smart antenna tracker can then point the antenna directly at the airborne system. Since the FPV antenna is co-located on the pan tilt mount, it will also point at the aircraft and maintain a good video link.

One of the gotchas with a system like this is dealing with an aircraft that is flying directly overhead. The plane or rotorcraft can fly by faster than the antenna system can move. There are a few commercial systems out there that handle this by switching to a lower gain omnidirectional whip antenna when the aircraft is close in. This would be a great addition to [Brandon's] design.

A Peach of a Homemade Parts Tumbler

tumbler[Chris] finds the average price of rock tumblers insulting. Almost as insulting, in fact, as prepackaged fruit salad made with Chinese peaches. While there may be little he can do about the peaches, he has given the finger to lapidary pricing by making his own tumbler on the very cheap.

Simply put, he drilled a hole in bottom of the peach vessel and then stuck a threaded rod through it. He held the rod in place with a nut and a washer. After securing the proper permits to source sand and water from his property, he put both in the jar along with some old nails that had paint and crud on them. [Chris] put the rod in the chuck of his drill and clamped the drill in his bench vise. Half an hour later, he had some nice, shiny nails. Make the jump to be amazed and entertained. If you prefer using balls, check out this homemade mill.

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Hackaday Retro Edition: 386 Compaqs

compaq [Antoine] recently learned of a little challenge we have in the hinterlands of the Hackaday webosphere – what’s the oldest, or lowest spec hardware you have that can load this our retro edition? He has a pile of old PCs at his work, and with a lot of idle time at work because of summer, he decided to dig into that pile and get a really old computer up on the Internet.

While the pile of PCs didn’t have anything as old as he was expecting, [Antoine] did find an old Compaq from 1992. It has a 386DX running at 25MHz, 4MB of RAM, a 300 MB hard drive, VGA, and an Ethernet NIC. Gathering the requisite CRT monitor, PS/2 keyboard, and an AUI to a more modern Ethernet connector.

When getting these ancient computer on the Internet, the secret sauce is in the software configuration. [Antoine]‘s box is running DOS 6.2, but was previously configured to connect to a Microsoft filesystem server on boot. This server was probably somewhere at the bottom of the same pile the Compaq was salvaged from, so rolling his own modern networking stack was the way to go. A driver for the NIC was downloaded on another computer and transferred via floppy, as was mTCP, the key to getting a lot of old PCs on the Internet. The browser is Arachne, and with the right configurations, everything worked perfectly.

[Antoine]‘s efforts resulted in a computer that can easily handle the stripped down Hackaday retro edition, and can handle light browsing on Wikipedia. The effective download rate is something like a 33k modem; even with a fast (10M!) Ethernet connection, processing all the packets is taxing for this old machine.

Arduino-based LED Wedding Lights

Light (1 of 3)Light (2 of 3)

[Rob] created these amazing Bluetooth controlled LED lights for his daughter’s wedding adding a colorful ambient glow to the ceremony. Each item held a Neopixel ring and an Arduino microprocessor with a wireless module that could be individually addressed over a ‘mini-network.’ The main master station would receive commands from a Windows Phone. Usually we see Arduino-based projects being run with Android apps, so it’s nice to see that Microsoft is still present in the maker community.

The enclosures and translucent vases that sit atop the devices were 3D printed. All eight of the matrimonial units synchronized with each other, and the colors could be changed by sliding the settings bar on the app.  [Rob] says that it was a lot of fun to build, and jokingly stated that it kept him “out of all the less important aspects of the ceremony. (food choice, decor, venue, who to marry etc etc).” The outcome was a beautiful arrangement of tabletop lighting for the wedding. A demo of [Rob]‘s setup can be seen in the video below.

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Baby’s Room Gets a Palace with this CNC Castle Decoration

castle decoration

[Vegard] and his wife were expecting a baby girl, and decided to build a castle for their new daughter. As a prototyping geek with his own CNC machine in his apartment, he decided to take to Google Sketchup to design this well-crafted castle decoration for his daughter’s room.

The first challenge was figuring out what the castle would look like. [Vegard] had never been to Disney Land or World, and so had never actually seen any of the fairy-tale castles in real life. After experimenting with some paper versions, he settled on a design which incorporates multiple layers and can house lights within them.

The next step was to cut the final version on the CNC machine, then sand and paint the parts. After figuring out a way to mount the castle to the wall, some LEDs were added for effect, driven by an Arduino. The final version looks pretty good!

Hacking your kids’ room is great fun, and you get to keep making new stuff to remain age appropriate. We bet [Vegard] can’t wait until she’s old enough to enjoy a marble-run that wraps the entire room. In the mean time he can work on a classic robot stroller.

Hackaday Links: August 30, 2014

hackaday-links-chain

Adafruit did another Circuit Playground, this time concerning frequency. If you’re reading this, no, it’s probably not for you, which is great because it’s not meant to be. If you have some kids, though, it’s great. Not-muppet robots and oscilloscopes. Just great.

The Hack42 space in Arnhem, Neterhlands recently got an offer: clean out a basement filled with old computer equipment, and it’s yours. Everything in the haul had to fit through an 80cm square door, and there are some very heavy, very rare pieces of equipment here. It’ll be a great (and massive) addition to their museum. There’s a few pics from the cleanout here and here.

[Mike] has been working on a project to convert gerber files into SVGs and it’s great.

[Carl] did a roundup of all the currently available software defined radios available. It’s more than just the RTL-SDR, HackRF, and BladeRF, and there’s also a list of modifications and ones targeted explicitly to the ham crowd.

This is a Facebook video, but it is pretty cool. It’s a DIY well pump made in Mexico. A few rubber disks made out of an old inner tube, a bit of PVC pipe, and a string is all you need to bring water to ground level.

What can you do with a cellphone equipped with a thermal imaging camera? Steal PIN codes, of course. Cue the rest of the blogosphere sensationalizing this to kingdom come. Oh, what’s that? Only Gizmodo took the bait?

About a year ago, we saw a pretty cool board made by [Derek] to listen in on the CAN bus in his Mazda 3. Now it’s a Kickstarter, and a pretty good one at that.

Your connectors will never be this cool. This is a teardown of a mind bogglingly expensive cable assembly, and this thing is amazing. Modular connectors, machined copper shields, machined plastic stress relief, and entire PCBs dedicated to two caps. Does anyone know what this mated to and what the list price was?

 

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